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      Rocket Report: Electricity Knocked Out in Sderot

      A Thursday morning Kassam sets kibbutz field afire, following two direct hits on houses the day before. Father says dead son is 11th Kassam victim.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 5/31/2007, 11:13 AM

      Of two Kassam rockets fired from Gaza at Israel Thursday morning, one landed at the entrance to a kibbutz in the western Negev. No one was hurt, but a wheat field was set on fire.

      Just two days ago, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon announced that the farming communities around Gaza would be eligible for a total of 800,000 shekels ($200,000) for the purpose of quickly harvesting their fields. Many wheat fields have been burnt in the past two weeks by Kassam rockets, just as they were about to be harvested.

      Wednesday's five rockets to Sderot caused heavy damage to two houses and knocked out electricity in parts of the city.

      The "Color Red" warning siren did not go off before some of the rockets hit - a situation that residents say is particularly frightening. In last night's direct hit, however, the warning system was activated, and the family was able to hide in its protected room and thus save their lives. Parts of the city were left in darkness around the same time when another rocket hit an electric pole. Electricity was restored only at 5 AM around the area of the explosion, and by midnight for the rest.

      Earlier Wednesday, just minutes after noon, another home in Sderot was hit directly by a Kassam rocket; no one was home at the time. Six people were evacuated to the Shock Treatment Center in Sderot, however.

      Unrecognized Kassam Victim
      Meanwhile, the father of a boy who died last week is saying his son was a Kassam rocket victim - who has not been recognized as such. Israel Radio's southern region correspondent Nissim Keinan reported Thursday morning that a 13-year-old boy, Chai Shalom, died last week in Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva after being wounded in a Kassam attack several days before. Deaf, mute, and suffering from cerebral palsy, Chai and three other children were wounded when a rocket exploded near their bus; the woman bus driver was able only to open the door and cry out for help before fainting.

      Though the boy has not, as of yet, been governmentally recognized as a terror victim, Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog said that now that he has been informed of the matter, he would look into it.

      Ten people are listed as having died as a result of Kassam rocket attacks - the last two being Shir'el Friedman of Sderot and Oshri Oz of Hod HaSharon over the past ten days. Chai Shalom's death brings the total to eleven.

      In the midst of yesterday's rockets, the Quartet - the US, UN, EU and Russia, convening in Berlin - condemned the Arabs' rocket fire at Israel, while also warning Israel not to "over-react." The Quartet representatives said Israel must not respond by harming civilians or damaging civilian infrastructures.

      It was also decided on Wednesday, by the Knesset Finance Committee, to designate Sderot a "peripheral community," rendering business owners eligible for compensation for indirect damage caused by Kassam rocket attacks. The bill applies retroactively from May 16 until August 31.

      In other PA violence, two Arabs were killed Wednesday night in Shechem when a car exploded near them. The car was apparently being prepared by Fatah terrorists as a car bomb to be used against IDF forces.